The story of bonded preemie kittens, Atom and Cordette, is one of strength and determination. For these neonates, life began filled with abandonment and sadness. They were found with their sister, Gidget who only lived to 4 days. Even more heartbreaking, were their already deceased 3 other siblings discovered with them, covered in flies and maggots. But when they were brought to foster mom Melinda Blain, they were given a fighting chance at surviving.
Melinda welcomed the two day old preemie kittens into her home on March 26th.
She shared the new rescues with her Instagram page @bottlebabyfosters and they instantly won her 50K followers over. Melinda knew she had a daunting task ahead of her. But her reason for rescuing was specifically to help neonatal kittens. It takes a special soul to do this life-saving work, and Melinda’s experience made her perfect for these needy neonates.
New two-day-old, premature, emaciated orphans. Their mama was a stray and I’m in contact with the feeder to get her fixed so that this never happens again. My best guess is that they basically starved for the first two days of their lives before I got them since mama took off right after giving birth.
They’re straight up skin and bones weighing in at 65 grams (cow girl Gidget), 66 grams (tuxie boy Atom), and 75 grams (calico girl Cordette). They should weigh closer to 150 grams and feeling their tiny rib cages and spines just breaks my heart.
Tuxie boy also has crackles in his lungs (likely from aspirating formula with the finder). So he’s on antibiotics and there’s oxygen running in the incubator. He’s not doing awesome and I’m keeping my eye on him in hopes that he’ll make it through the night. Cow girl also had explosive diarrhea between the last feedings, so she’s getting some additional probiotics. Calico girl is by far the strongest, but they all have a long way to go.
Those first few days were very touch and go, with the preemies health teeter-tottering hourly.
The tinies had a very difficult night. They’ve all developed some form of diarrhea and they all have lost all interest in food. I have them on two different meds (in addition to probiotics and fluids as supportive care). I’m hoping once their tummies calm down, they’ll be eating on their own.
Gidget is by far in the worst shape. She also seems to have no control over her bladder. What I thought was simply a little accident between feedings, now looks like full blown incontinence, which means there’s something internal going on. I’m not confident she’s going to make it to tomorrow, but she’s still getting everything possible.
After Gidget lost her battle, Melinda’s resolve to save Atom and Cordette was renewed even more. Both kittens were on constant oxygen and in the incubator, plus being given meds and tube feedings. Every feeding was done with baited breath, waiting to see if the kittens would be able to keep weight on. Their delicate stomachs had a long way to come after being starved upon entering this world.
As successful hours turned into days, the preemie kittens grew stronger, but then some scary setbacks occurred.
Cordette’s poor little umbilical cord (these usualy fall off in the first week) became infected and sepsis set in. This is when the body’s response to infection causes injury to tissues and organs.
She’s already on an oral antibiotic, but we’re going to be starting her on a stronger antibiotic as well. She has fluid accumulation in her legs as well from the sepsis. It will be a miracle if she pulls through this.
Baby girl is fighting, but this is more than serious and she doesn’t have a high chance of making it through this.
The next day, Cordette was improving and although her strength came in waves, Melinda was hopeful. But then the following day, BOTH babies started to fade!
Both of the preemie kittens started crashing earlier this morning. I was able to get them back, but they’re still very fragile. This was little Atom last night when he was still doing comparatively well. I’ll be feeding them every 1.5 hours today to get some of their weight back on and get them back to a more stable condition.
They go from being too weak to move around the incubator to trying to wriggle out of the scale, but they’re still here and still fighting.
They’ve come so far in such a short time, but they’re nowhere near a place where I’m 100 percent confident they’re going to make it.
With a sigh of relief, the setbacks began clearing up and the preemie kittens were on a healthy path!
At 10 days of age, Cordette finally reached the weight of a normal 1-2 day old kitten! (This is CLEARLY a photo of her later, after a yummy meal HAHA #walkingpotato)
On April 9th, baby Atom’s eyes opened and he was able to see his world for the first time. Just don’t let him look in a mirror at his bedhead!
Atom’s newfound eyeballs have him looking like he has a perpetual case of the Mondays, but he’s actually one of the happiest kittens ever. He’s officially off of oxygen and still growing so quickly everyday. He’s such a special little guy and still constantly purrs all of the time.
Melinda’s residence was home to other foster kittens too, but Atom and Cordette always gravitated towards each other.
Even in the incubator due to their plethora of ailments, Atom would wander over to his sister–regardless of the “rules”.
Cordette is still dreaming of life outside of the incubator in another few days. Cue the rainy window for her pensive stare.
They are very much a bonded pair and they get upset if they’re not next to each other at all times. When they had to be separated in the incubator while Cordette’s injury was healing, Cordette used to sneak across the divider to be with Atom before I reinforced it and I’m so glad they’re now able to be safely together.
By mid-April, both kittens were beginning to show their personalities and playing.
Cordette with the cuteness and chub, plus her goofy little tongue sticking out. She’s just now learning how to play and is practicing her butt biting skills on Atom. She is a perfect chub angel and serious cuteness goals. Her favorite 3.5-week-old hobbies include continued biscuit making, perfecting her incubator escape, and receiving toothbrush massages to tame her bedhead.
Based on my calculations, Cordette’s face is over 50% eyeball. It’s crazy for me to look back on where we were a month ago. All of the sleepless nights and constant worrying were 100 percent worth it to give this little girl and her brother a second chance.
A Cordette butt biting episode in progress. Atom isn’t so sure what’s going on, but he’s slowly learning how to play. He often thinks the blanket is a kitten and bites it instead, but he’s working on becoming a tiny predator.
Atom is perfecting his cuddle rush and has added suckling on my hand to his list of favorite hobbies. Other highlights on the list include being very confused by the fact that he can hear now and perfecting his butt bite retaliation. He still loves to cuddle rush and is currently a shoulder cat in training. He also gets an A-plus in purr volume output.
Now, the once mini kittens are ready for their forever home–together!
These sweet bonded preemie kittens are now up for adoption. If you are in the Phoenix, Arizona area, or just HAVE to have these cuties, please visit their website HERE.
If you are interested in donating to Melinda and all her bottle baby fosters, they are always in need of donations.
We can’t wait to see what lucky family welcomes these survivors into their hearts. Thank you to Melinda for her dedication and drive to help save the neonates of the world. But let’s not forget that these difficult beginnings can be avoided! It’s up to us to prevent their suffering.